Google is on a mission. Yes, I know what you’re thinking; world domination. Although it may seem like that at times, Google’s more laudable raison d’être, so they would have us believe, is to provide the multitudinous users of the World Wide Web with access to the most accurate information and the most unique and original content.
So far so good; but what does that mean to me, I hear you ask. Well actually, if you’re the proud owner of a website, then the answer is an awful lot. Whatever business, product or service you are promoting, if you want your website at the top of the rankings, then it is not enough to simply build your website and set it free. On the contrary, a successful website that ranks highly and has a good conversion rate can never be considered ‘finished’ but must be an ever changing project that grows and evolves with your business.
Now more than ever, particularly with the most recent and upcoming changes to the Google algorithms, the content of a website is taking precedence over the design and style. The Googlebot now searches for and responds to new content, rewarding it with rankings and traffic, so your content must be good and must be updated regularly.
Why Create New Content Now?
In 2000, Google began to make changes to its algorithms that spawned the SEO industry and fundamentally altered the way the internet operates. Over the last decade and a half, Google has continually tweaked and adjusted these algorithms, constantly changing the rules of the game, in pursuit of its goal to refine the quality of search results. The upshot is the Googlebot, the search engine that trawls the internet and brings searchers the results that are, in Google’s opinion, the best and the most appropriate available.
In order to sieve through the billions of websites currently on the internet and return search results that are accurate and relevant, the Google algorithms are programmed to ignore websites with old or poor quality content in favour of websites with new, fresh and top-quality content. Whilst there are a lot of pit falls to this approach, which will need to be explored in a separate article, the great benefit of these changes is that Google rewards only the very best web designers, promoters and copywriters who, let’s face it, deserve a little recognition!
The most important two words to remember, however, in all of this are ‘content’ and ‘fresh’; Google wants to provide searchers with the most up-to-date information and, in order to do this, the Googlebot is programmed to reward ‘freshness’ (Yes, I know it’s not a real word, but we are currently on Planet Google so we must let it be). Every single time a new piece of content is published on a website, the Googlebot is alerted by a little ‘ping’ that requires it to revisit that website and ‘crawl’ it anew. Hence, it will return that site in the next relevant search and continue to do so each time fresh content is added.
Unfortunately, the ‘freshness’ of content degrades over time, so it is vital that the process of adding new content is kept up. Google will still use older content for certain searches, as the worth of content does not necessarily decrease with time, but most websites promoting a business will need to evolve and change as the business does.
What New Content Should Be Added To A Website?
Adding New Vs Changing Old
The best way to keep your website ‘fresh’ and high up the Google rankings is to add in new pages of content on a regular basis and the most effective way of achieving this is to post a blog. Blogging serves two purposes; besides providing your website with new content it also helps you to tell your story and bring your business to life. Increasingly, people’s purchases are based on intangibles and an ability to create an affinity with your customers is crucial; if people identify with you and your brand then they will buy your product or service.
Additionally, another great way of adding new content is to create a testimonials page and ask your satisfied customers to write a recommendation for your business. This is a very efficient method of cultivating that all important ‘word of mouth’ effect and will also help build up the trust value for potential customers.
Nevertheless, it is still vitally important to ensure that the rest of the content on your website is up to date. Besides the fact that old or outdated content is counterproductive, if a sizeable amount of text is altered, then the Googlebot will be alerted and will crawl your website again. The basics here are obvious; ensure that your contact details are still correct and that your website is not promoting a service or product that was discontinued six months ago, but also ensure that those pages that are most visited, particularly your homepage, are updated on a regular basis. If your business has altered or an important event has occurred, publish it and reap the ranking rewards.
How Often Should You Add Content To A Website?
The frequency with which you need to add or update content is almost entirely dependent on the type of business being promoted and there are no hard and fast rules. The general guide agreed upon by most SEO experts is that a website needs to increase its content by roughly 20% – 30% per year.
If the business in question is predominantly static and the website serves mostly as a brochure, for example, in the case of a small family run B&B business with an already established customer base, then the website content would only require an update or addition once or twice a year. On the other hand, if the business in question is the BBC, then the content needs to be updated by the minute.
Admittedly, the majority of businesses are somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. However, for more evolving businesses, businesses seeking growth or those undergoing change, then the content needs to be either added or edited on a much more regular basis. According to the leading SEO experts, the general rate here, to maintain a position near the top of Google for your keywords, is to upload short (approx. 250 -350 words) timely updates weekly and longer (approx. 1000 – 2000 words) researched analysis monthly. Yep, that’s a lot of content! I’ll try to convince you that it’s worth it.
What Does New Content Do For A Website?
Rank for More Keywords
This one is fairly obvious, but the more pages and the more text that there is on a website, the more chance there is put in those crucial keywords. If you want your page to rank on Google for your chosen keywords then you have to create as many opportunities as possible to get those keywords mentioned.
What’s more, the longer the content is the more chance there is of catching long tail search terms. It’s not only the search engines that are changing, the way people search is also evolving and becoming more specific. The average length of a so called ‘long tail search’, essentially a search term with more than three words in it, is now seven or eight words and, whilst individual search volumes for these may be low, the cumulative effect of catching them in your website is too significant to ignore.
Increase Backlinks and Social Signals
New web pages, particularly blogs or pages of informed comment on your particular business sector, bring increased chances of other web users linking to your page. The average small business website needs something in the region of 250 external links to really it boost its rankings and the most efficient way of creating these is to attract them naturally. If your writing is interesting and original then customers, colleagues and associates will read it and want to share it on their own website.
Moreover, Google much prefers this method of creating backlinks and will recognise and reward it with rankings. This process additionally boosts the authenticity and integrity of a site in Google’s eyes and, in return, improves the rankings for all the website’s targeted keywords, rather than just the ones on the new pages. It’s win win.
New blogs and content also provide an extra chance to promote your website via social media. Each time new content is added, it is vital to promote it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, for example, or to alert your customer base via an email newsletter. This also brings new potential customers to the site or prompts your existing customer base to return, increasing the traffic to your website and once again improving its ranking.
Shows Your Knowledge and Expertise
A regular blog is one of the most effective ways of demonstrating your understanding of and skills in your chosen business sector. Besides providing reasons for others to link to your site, it gives you the best chance of ‘showing off’ to your customers or others in your sector, of expressing your enthusiasm for your business or of simply telling the world about the developments in your business.
An effective blog will keep you in contact with your customer base and will bring in extra custom, building up a trust between your brand and your client that your competitors can’t replicate. If people trust you then they will continue to do business with you, even if they could get a similar product or service elsewhere cheaper.
Encourages People to Stay for Longer
Again, it’s obvious, but more web pages and more original and interesting content gives people something to read, meaning that browsers will stay on your website longer, which in turn means that there is more chance of achieving those vital conversions. What’s more, if similarly superior content is added regularly, then those browsers will continue to return to your website again and again. Word will spread, browsers will become customers, links will be made, your website will be shared, you’re rankings will rise and before you know it, you’re rivalling Google in the world domination stakes.
How to Write More Content For Your Website?
Let’s face it, with all these benefits, there’s no question that you should be adding content regularly if you want your website to be successful. I appreciate, however, that running a successful company doesn’t leave most people with a lot of spare time to research and pen reams of original content on a weekly basis. The answer is simple; either make time or make somebody else do it.
For those with only a limited budget to spend on marketing, particularly for a small, family run business for example, perhaps the burden could be spread around the staff or the family, with each individual taking a weekly turn. With the free calendar tools now available from most email providers it is easy to set up a content plan and an associated roster that will even prompt when the next blog or page is due.
Alternatively, there are a plethora of SEO consultants or freelance copywriters out there who would be more than happy to provide this service for very reasonable rates. As ever though, do your homework and don’t go simply go for the cheapest price; the content needs to be well written and informed otherwise it will be counterproductive. [See article ‘Don’t Scrimp On The Content’]
Ultimately, the cost benefits to your business of ensuring that your website is regularly updated with erudite content can never be underestimated and, however you do it, it will be cost effective in the long run.